The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation Beanie illustration

Activities and experiments

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  Activities & Experiments
  Here are some fun things to try at home!
Plastic Bag Invention Contest!
Get creative with used plastic bags and win big this summer!
light bulb icon Build Your Own Gramophone
Listen to music on this early example of the record player.
Get Creative with Nanoscale Inventions
Think big, invent small! And create your own nanoart.
Create Your Own Monument
Just like the ones outside Spark!Lab's front door in Washington, D.C.! Create a monument dedicated to your inventive mind.
Create Your Own Indoor Kite
The kite has played a role in many famous your own!
Invent a Diving Sparky
Build a diving own version of Spark!Lab's official mascot.
Invent a Climbing Sparky
Build a climbing version of Spark!Lab's official mascot.
Create Your Own Bubbles
Discover your inner bubble inventor with this fun and easy activity!
Invent a Board Game
Invent, build and then play your very own board game!
Design and Play a Drum
Make a drum from materials available at home or school. Look in your recycling bin for inspiration!
Build a LEGO Lightbulb
Create the universal symbol of a big idea with your own LEGO bricks.
Invent a Musical Whirligig
Since antiquity, people have used their imagination and common materials to invent toys, many of them active, kid-powered, and noise making--like the whirligig. Be a part of history and invent your own!
Invent Your Own Gelatin Dessert
Learn a bit about the invention of Jell-O (in 1845!) and then invent a gelatin dessert of your own.

Make a Yo-Yo from Recycled Stuff
Thomas Edison said, "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." With these words of wisdom in mind, we challenge you to create your own yo-yo using items found in your recycling bin.

Make Your Own Wind Turbine
A wind turbine is a machine that captures the force of the wind to produce electricity. Use our pattern, a thumbtack, and a pencil with an eraser to make your own wind turbine.
Build Your Own Speaker
A speaker is a device found in radios, telephones, and other electronic devices that converts electrical energy into sound energy. You can make your own speaker with some simple supplies.
Make a Polymer
A polymer is made up of tiny molecules in long, repeating chains, like paper clips hooked together. Polymers are all around us—even in our own bodies! Here's how you can make your own.
Polishing Pennies
Try this experiment to find out why some liquids polish pennies better than others.
Build a Skyscraper
Be the architect and build—and then test the strength of—a skyscraper.
Extract DNA
DNA is inside the cells of every living thing, including you. This experiment lets you see the long, twisting molecules of DNA inside cells.
Be a Hydroponic Gardener
Believe it or not, some plants can grow without soil.  This type of gardening is called hydroponics. Here's how you can get started growing green.
Make a Light Bulb
Thomas Edison changed our world with electric lights and an entire system that produced and delivered electrical power. Try your hand at making your own light bulb.